May 20, 2016

I APOLOGIZE IF YOUR UBER DRIVER TRIED TO SELL YOU A HOUSE.

Uber is a brilliant idea.  The kind of idea that makes me (and probably you) think, “dang, why didn’t I think of that?”  The first time I ever took an Uber I had all the kids with me - we’d been to the Body Worlds Exhibit at Discovery - and decided to go visit Ken, who is our real estate photographer.    So we took the train to the station near his house and then an Uber to get there.  I was amazed at how efficient it was compared to the typical cab experience.  The car was clean and the driver was really nice.  We chatted about the job, how he liked it, things like that.  He even entertained the 1,000 questions that Jack asked.

Fast forward to this week.  Yesterday I’m listening to a podcast and the host starts talking about where he’d read on the internet about real estate agents who were getting jobs as Uber drivers so they should meet new contacts and pitch their real estate services.

WAIT.  WHAT?

Did your jaw just drop?  Mine too.  

I honestly thought it couldn’t be true.  I mean, seriously, who would do this?  As if the Real Estate business needs one more negative connotation.  But Google says it’s true.  I spent a few minutes poking around this morning and, sure enough, I’ve found blog articles, posts on forums, and advice columns with Realtors talking about what a great idea this is.  

On one of the more popular Realtor forums I even found posts where the Realtor included a video promoting Uber and an affiliate link so they could earn a bonus if another Realtor signed up as a driver!  Don’t believe me?  Watch it here.  

 

I thought that would be the low point of this story until I found this on an  "Uber Agent's" blog:

 

“Now let me make this crystal clear up front: I am absolutely NOT telling you to openly and overtly solicit your services to your Uber riders. That is 100% wrong, and violates Ubers policies, and will just turn people off to you as a person. No one likes to be pitched within minutes of meeting someone.”


So, wait - you wrote an article about pitching your real estate services while driving for Uber and, in the same article, you point out that it’s a violation of the terms of service.  And. . .AND. . .you point out that nobody wants to be pitched [in an Uber car].  That’s smart. That’s the kind of forward-thinking mentality that brings new levels of respect to our industry.  

Or not.

I’ve said since 2005 when I started selling real estate that the barriers to entering this profession are too low.  When I started you only needed 76 hours of class to get your license in NC - what a joke.  I think it’s up to 166 now (spread out over three years) which is still a joke.  Although there is a whopping 8 hours per year of mandatory continuing education (which, you guessed, is still a joke).  Maybe we need an 8 hour class on how not to do stupid crap.  

I can’t imagine being held captive in a car having to endure a random sales pitch.  So, if it’s happened to you, I’m sorry.  We’ve got a lot of knuckleheads in this business.  And, if it has happened to you, drop me note via email or leave a comment - I’d love to hear your story.

 

 

    

Posted in Listing
May 18, 2016

Unethical Jackasses

Richard Price

 

“You see, Tom, a lot of the people in my industry are unethical jackasses.”

Yes, that’s really what I said.  Because it’s true.

Last week Julia’s cousin, Cameron, graduated from Wingate University.  Go Bulldogs!  Graduations are pretty big deal on that side of the family so we had a big party.  BBQ, ribs, potato salad, cold beer.  And Chic-Fil-A chicken nuggets too, because that’s what Cameron wanted. 

So all the relatives are in town and I find myself in a conversation with Tom (who is either a cousin, or an uncle, or a grandfather - I can’t keep it straight) about a house in St. Louis that he’s been trying to sell for some time.  Apparently it’s in a very desirable area where houses typically sell quickly and often for top dollar.  Tom’s house had been under contract twice but did not close either time and he was curious as to my opinion of what happened.

Now let me say - same thing I told Tom - I’ve never seen the house, I never saw the contracts, and I don’t know the local customs in Missouri.  But I do know Real Estate and, aside from some differences in forms, it’s pretty much the same gig in all 50 states. 

So here’s the background.  Tom’s house was built in 1904.  It’s a large, grand affair in a historic area filled with other large, grand houses.  Like most historic areas there is a wide variation in the condition of the homes.  Some have been restored, some have been modernized, some are in fair condition, and some are in poor condition - so there are significant differences in condition and features that cause a high degree of variability in value.

Tom’s house was in fair condition but, having never been updated, it needed quit a bit of work.  As such, Tom wanted to sell it “as-is.”  While there’s nothing wrong with selling a home “as-is” there are some risks, one of which is making yourself a target for so-called “investors” who are really anything but.

You know the type - you’ve seen the signs.  “We Buy Houses.”  “Cash For Your Home.”  “Close In 7 Days.”  As the market continues its upward trend they are becoming more and more prevalent.  Most of these businesses - most especially the ones with hand-written signs - are little more than an opportunity to have your time wasted.  Based on what Tom told me I believe this  happened to him. Here’s how it works.  


An “investor” who claims to be a “house flipper” approaches you and makes an offer for your house.  Typically the contract will have the following features:

  • It’s not the “standard” contract for your area.  Realtors use a contract issued by their state’s Association of Realtors that’s pretty much a fill-in-the-blank affair.

  • It’s unilaterally assignable - meaning the buyer can sell the contract to another party without approval of the seller

  • It has a low amount of earnest money and/or the period of time through which the earnest money is refundable is excessive - often through the proposed closing date.

  • It allows for atypical access by the buyer to your property - i.e. they are allowed to schedule showings or “pre-market” the property to prospective buyers.

What’s really going on here is that the “investor” actually has no plans to close on your house at all.  Rather, they are looking to “wholesale” the house which is a fancy term for finding someone who actually does want to buy it and selling the contract to them.  In other words they use a non-standard, unilaterally assignable contract in which they’ve eliminated their risk by having a small, refundable deposit so that they can market the house and find someone else to sell the contract to ahead of the closing date.  If they don’t find that someone then your house does not sell. 

They want to flip the contract, not the house

Is this legal?  Yes.  Is it ethical?  Depends.  If the intent of the contract is clearly explained to the seller then I’d say it’s ethical.  In Tom’s case I think it fell in a gray area - he had some idea of what was really going on, but that’s because Tom’s a smart man - not because this was clearly spelled out in the contract.

In a future post I’ll get a little deeper into this and talk about some ways to spot these so called investors.  To be fair there are very legitimate businesses that do, indeed, buy houses for cash.  For now though, consider those hand written signs that are popping up on every exit ramp, at every stop light, and every telephone pole.   They’re called “bandit signs.” 

Think about that for a minute.  You might even Google it.  

 

 

Posted in flipping houses
Feb. 23, 2016

The Maddest I Have Ever Been (About a Mortgage)

Richard Price

The maddest I have ever been since 2005 - the year I started selling houses - was the year Bob lied to me.  Bob - which is not his real name - was a mortgage broker.  Bob's probably not in business anymore and wouldn't care if I used his name but still - I'll use a different name.  

So I'm working with a seller and we're doing the things we do to get a house ready for the market.  Our stager is coming out, we're painting walls and moving furniture.  We had the home inspected and a few minor repairs were being made. Photography is lined up - I'm real excited about this because our photographer had just gotten new video camera that lets him produce true High Definition Video.  Things are zipping right along.

And then - through the grape vine - a buyer pops up.  Great!  I love it when this happens.  These folks call me and want to make an offer.  I say, "super, can you send over a copy of your pre-approval letter?"  They tell me they don't have it in hand but will touch base with their mortgage broker and get it to me ASAP. 

For the sake of the story let's call these potential buyers Linda and Greg.  In hindsight I shouldn't have said anything about Linda and Greg to my clients but, excitement being what it is, I did.  And of course they were excited too.  They had their eye on another house - a beautiful home in a lakefront community where they'd always wanted to live.  It was favorably priced and they wanted to buy it before anyone else had the chance.  If Linda and Greg pulled the trigger on their house then they could move on the lakefront home.

Winner winner, chicken dinner!  Right?  

Wrong. 

Fast forward a few days and we've got an offer on the table.  Bob was out of town but called to assure me that Linda and Greg were "good to go" and that he had them fully pre-approved for a mortgage.    The price is a little less than we wanted but Linda and Greg would take the house "as is" and the seller could pursue the lake house.  

On behalf of the sellers I drafted an Offer to Purchase the lakefront home and submitted it to the listing broker.  Our offer was accepted and we were under contract.  My clients couldn't have been more excited.

And then my phone rang.

The short version is that Bob The Mortgage Guy was calling to let me know he was back in town and we had a problem. Linda and Greg didn't quite qualify for the loan.  You see Bob had lied to me a few days earlier when he said they could get the loan - he had not actually qualified them since they were his friends.  

The fact was they could get a loan but they did't quite qualify for this loan because the purchase price was too high.  The whole deal - the sale of my client's current home and the purchase of the lakefront home - looked like it would fall apart. 

Which leads me my point, which is disappointment.  

This is about disappointment.  

Can you imagine how disappointed the buyer was?  I mean here they are thinking that everything is cool and they are getting ready to buy a house which, to them, was a dream home.  And my client - the seller - is not only disappointed but also mad because they appear to have lost their sale and they are on the hook for another house.  

YOU NEED TO GET PRE-APPROVED FOR A MORTGAGE BEFORE YOU LOOK AT HOUSES

And I mean really pre-approved.  Approved because you submitted your information to a mortgage broker who takes the time to review it, pull your credit score & mortgage history, and verify that there are no obstacles to you obtaining the loan you need.

You need to get pre-approved because:

  • You want to buy a house, right?
  • You want a Realtor to show you houses that you're interested in, right?
  • You want to eventually put an offer on a house, right?
  • You want the seller of that house to take your offer seriously, right?
  • Because you do actually want to move, right?

Then you need to be approved for a mortgage. Plain and simple.

 

IF YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO SPEND THE FAIRLY SMALL AMOUNT OF TIME IT TAKES TO GET A PRE-APPROVAL LETTER NOBODY IS GOING TO TAKE YOU SERIOUSLY AND YOU ARE SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR DISAPPOINTMENT.

By the way we did end up getting the house sold and the seller did eventually become the buyer of the home in the lakefront community.  That's a whole other story in itself - I'll tell that one later.  

Posted in buying tips
Feb. 22, 2016

The Time Charlie Cussed Me

You should have seen Charlie's face when he got his staging report from us. I mean it had to be 50 pages long. Not really, but Charlie thought it was. And his wife, Edith, thought it was 200. I'm pretty sure they both cussed me. And probably cussed Lisa, our stager, who is an expert. Nevertheless they set out to do it - they committed - and did it all.

I assume they cussed me some more along the way - this started back in October of last year.

Charlie and Edith's house had become what houses become as we live in them. We fill them up with memories and laughter and love but we also fill them up with stuff. And the walls get dirty and the paint fades and dust builds up in the corners.

Charlie and Edith had a lot of stuff. Not so much dirt - but stuff for sure. Perhaps enough stuff to fill two houses this size. Charlie said it was all Edith's. Edith said it was all Charlie's. In the end I think they blamed it on the kids.

So they cleaned. And they hauled off. And they hauled off some more. The painter came and went. All the screen was taken off the back porch and it was painted (Charlie really cussed me about this one). Boxes were packed and moved - even the kid's rooms (I think they secretly cussed me too).

Eventually it was done. Charlie and Edith agreed that it looked good. Ken came out and took the photos. The house went on the market last Monday afternoon. Tuesday morning we had the first offer. By the next day we had another. By the end of the day had a contract - full price with no seller concessions. Even negotiated a lease-back so Charlie and Edith could stay put while they finished building their new house.

I think Charlie and Edith are done cussing me now. Charlie even bought me lunch and a beer on Friday. Not a bad way to wind up the week.

Posted in Listing
Feb. 16, 2016

Listing to List verus Listing to Sell

Richard Price

I got into the Real Estate Business back in 2005.  At the time I lived in Carrboro, NC just outside of Chapel Hill and the market was BOOMING.  I had been in the IT business since graduating from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2000.  In retrospect it was one hell of a bad time to get into that business with the dot-com bubble peaking in March of that year and busting shortly thereafter.  I guess I have a thing with bubbles since the the U.S. housing bubble started to burst about 5 minutes after I passed the state licensing exam.  Lucky me.

So anyway I get into this business of real estate and, like anyone else doing the same, I set about trying to get a client. In fairly short order I had my first - the owner of a town home about 20 minutes away in Durham, NC.  Now, mind you, even though I was raised by one of the most successful real estate brokers in Union County I really had absolutely no clue as to what I was doing in terms of selling this house.  But I knew I needed to sell it because I needed to get paid.  I pressed the "Comparative Market Analysis" button in the MLS system that told me what the house was worth, took some pictures with a fancy camera that I had no idea how to use, and slapped the listing up.  

And then something amazing happened.  My phone started ringing.  

Oh Dear Lord Glory Hallelujah!  

People are calling me!  And they want to buy a house! I had clients! If this wasn't the best thing since sliced bread I didn't know what was.  

Now I'm what I refer to as an "off and on" reader.  I like to read but I don't always read. As I write this I've finished 3 books in the last couple of weeks and I'm in the middle of 3 business books, 2 pleasure books, and couple of personal development/self help type books.  Sometimes I don't read a book for six months a year.  But in 2005 I read some books about how to be successful in the business of real estate and they all said the same thing: list, list, list.  "If you don't list you don't exist."

I talked to the successful brokers in my office and they said the same thing - list houses! List houses!  And so I listed some more houses, learned more about what I was doing, and kept reading and kept talking to successful agents.  I attended sales trainings and seminars.  In time the "webinar" format became popular and I started watching those. And as I did I realized that I was being taught tools and strategies to just list the house - no matter what.

Seller wants too much?  So what, list it!  They'll reduce the price later.

Seller won't repair the leaking room?  So what, list it!  We'll figure that out later

Seller owes to much to sell for a reasonable price?  So what, list it!  You'll at least pick up some new buyers.

It was almost like Nike had taught everyone - all the books and classes needed was the Swoosh above the words "Just List It."

As I listed and sold my next few houses the reasons became clear.  As a general rule a Realtor makes more money selling other houses to the buyers who inquire about the listed house than they do selling the listed house itself. 

Stated another way it may not matter, strictly from the perspective of income, if the listed house sells or not because the listing agent is very likely to sell at least one other house by virtue of having that particular house listed.

Listing to List vs. Listing to Sell

Now let me be clear here - I'm not accusing anyone of anything.  I'm simply saying that this phenomenon creates a strong financial motivation for Realtors to list houses "no matter what". To just get the listing. Listing a house usually has an exponential effect on a Realtor's income in that listing one house results in selling 2 or 3 or however many more.  

Here's some tips for how to spot the difference between the two approaches.

Listing to List

  • Poor quality photos - often snapshots from a cell phone.
  • Little to no preparation for the market, i.e. rooms not staged, house not clean
  • Rush to the market - sign goes in the yard as soon as listing agreement is signed or listing goes in the MLS without photos
  • Agreed upon listing price is much higher than indicated by comparable sales with no apparent or justified reason
  • Listing agent takes direction from the owner as to how the house should be priced and marketed

Listing to sell

  • House is prepared for the market - rooms are staged, home is cleaned, lawn looks good, repairs have been made
  • Professional photos & video
  • Property is listed as quickly as possible but is not rushed to market at the expense of preparation
  • The price is in line with comparable sales; owner understands the value range and the implications of pricing at either extreme
  • Listing agent listens to the owner's concerns but ultimately is in control of pricing & marketing

As a seller listing to list makes little sense.  It's likely to result in stagnation as the house sits on the market, frustration over a lack of showings, and irritation with the agent who listed it because the house isn't selling.  

When you're ready to sell your house make sure it's listed to sell.

 

Posted in Listing
Jan. 29, 2016

Why Commit to a Buyer's Agent?

"We're just looking."

We hear this all the time.  But the moment you find that one house you've been looking for everything changes.  You go from looking buying in the blink of an eye.  When that happens - and it will happen - you want to be prepared by having a Buyer's Agent that you know and trust to call on.  Here's why:

  1. It's usually free.  How many times in your life do you get to hire someone to work for you without paying them? Buyer's Agents are paid by the Listing Broker who is in turn paid by the seller.  So your Buyer's agent is essentially your employee but you don't have to write their paycheck.   

  2. You can fire your Buyer's Agent if they are not meeting your expectations.  Feel like you're not getting what you need?  Terminate the agreement and find another agent - you can do this at any time. 

  3. If you want the agent to work for you - really work for you - the agent needs to know that they will eventually be compensated for their time.  Otherwise you're probably not going to get much more than than an automated list of properties that may or may not fit your criteria.

  4. When you find the house you want to buy you don't want get stuck with a random agent.  This happens all the time.  Buying a house, for most, is the largest single financial decision they will make in their lives.  Do you really want to make it with whoever happened to answer the phone or respond to your text? 

For educated home buyers having a Buyer's Agent is a no-brainer - it's like having a doctor.  When it's time for a checkup you don't call some random doctor do you?  Of course not - you go to your doctor that you know and trust.  By the same token you need someone you know and trust to go to when it's time to look at or buy a house.

Stop calling and emailing random agents and hire a Buyer's Agent to work for you.  You'll be glad you did.  

 

Posted in buying tips
Aug. 31, 2015

Get Ready For Closing

We're nearing the closing on the sale of your home - are you excited? Here's a couple of things to remember:

What's Left For Me To Do?

Aside from moving out you only need to complete your closing paperwork.  If you have elected to attend closing you'll do this at the closing attorney's office otherwise you will meet with us to sign.  Either way please remember that there may be documents requiring your signature that are not available until the day of closing so you'll need to have access to a printer as well as a fax machine, scanner, or smart phone.  

When Do I Have To Be Out?

Please plan to be 100% moved out by 5:00 PM the day before the Closing Date.  If you cannot do this, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can be aware and prepared.  

What Do I Do With The Keys?

We put together a binder with appliance manuals, repair receipts, surveys & appraisals, and other documents  for the buyer of your home.  If we've already dropped this binder at your house you can put your keys & garage door openers in the zipper pouch in the front.  If we've not yet dropped it you can leave the keys & openers on the kitchen counter and we'll take care of them.  When you are 100% done moving out simply lock the door behind you and leave.

What Condition Should The House Be In?

The house should be completely empty of any personal property (unless it was part of the contract and is conveying to the buyer) and clean.  Please empty all closets, cabinets & drawers.  Wipe down counter tops and fixtures and sweep/vacuum/mop all floors.  It does not have to perfect but should be "pretty clean."

*Special Note:  when removing nails, hooks, etc from paintings or pictures that may have been hanging do not worry about filling the holes unless you also plan to touch up the paint. 

A Reminder About Fixtures

Remember that in selling your home the fixtures remain with the property unless they have been excluded from the contract.  As such please read through this list again to ensure that you aren't accidentally removing a fixture.  Fixtures include range/stove/oven, any built-in appliances, light fixtures, ceiling fans, attached floor coverings, blinds,shades, drapery rods and curtain rods, brackets and all related hardware, window and door screens, storm windows, combination doors,awnings, antennas, satellite dishes and receivers, mounting brackets for televisions and for speakers and all related hardware,burglar/fire/smoke/carbon monoxide alarms and security systems, pool and spa equipment, solar energy systems, attached fireplace screens, gas logs, fireplace inserts, electric garage door openers with controls, outdoor plants and trees (other than in movable containers), basketball goals, storage sheds, mailboxes, attached wall and/or door mirrors, fuel tank(s) whether attached or buried and including any contents that have not been used, removed or resold to the fuel provider as of Settlement*, landscape and/or foundation lighting, invisible fencing including all related equipment, lawn irrigation systems and all related equipment, and water softener/conditioner and filter equipment.

Final Walk Through

The Buyer will schedule a final walk through just prior to closing.  The purpose of this is to ensure that the property has been emptied of all personal items, is clean, and is in the same condition as when the contract was agreed upon.  If repairs were agreed upon and not previously verified, the Buyer may also verify those repairs have been completed.

Utility Disconnection

Please schedule your utilities to be disconnected the day after closing.  Disastrous things can happen if utilities are off even for a short while (such as ice from an ice maker melting and leaking onto the floor), so scheduling the disconnect for the day after closing protects you.  We will have advised the Buyer to connect the utilities for the day of closing.

When Can I Get My Money?

The sale is finalized when the Deed is recorded at the Register of Deed's office and your funds will be available afterwards.  This is generally the same day unless the closing takes place late afternoon in which case is may be the next day.  (Note that in South Carolina funds are available as soon as both Buyer and Seller have signed - you do not need to wait on the deed to be recorded). Generally you can pick up a check from the Closing Attorney's office or have it mailed to you.  For a fee, the attorney can wire the funds to your bank account.   

Questions?

Give us a call, we're here to help.   

Posted in Closing Process
Aug. 12, 2015

We Have a Contract - What's Next?

Congratulations on getting your house under contract!  We work hard to make the next steps as easy for you as possible which is why you won't even need to attend closing.  Please remember that each transaction is unique and comes with a different set of players including inspectors, Closing Attorneys, title insurance companies, etc.  So use this as a guideline but make sure you ask us if you have any questions.

Buyer Inspections

Your contract contains a period of time during which the Buyer may conduct inspections. This is called the Due Diligence Period in North Carolina and the Repair Procedure in South Carolina, though you will commonly hear the terms used interchangeably or referred to as the Inspection Period.  For your convenience, we make every effort to ensure that all inspections take place on the same day and as a general rule, it's preferable that you are not home.  Should the Buyer request any repairs following inspections, we will negotiate the best possible agreement and coordinate any required repairs.  Remember that during this period, the Buyer may terminate the contract and receive a refund of the Earnest Money Deposit.  

Earnest Money Deposit and Optional Due Diligence Fee

The Buyer's Earnest Money Deposit will be deposited with the Escrow Agent which is typically the Buyer's Agent's Firm or the Closing Attorney.  This money will be credited towards the purchase price at closing unless the Buyer elects to terminate the contract during the inspection period.  If the Buyer does not close and is in breach of the contract, the Earnest Money, in most cases, will be forfeited to the Seller.

North Carolina Contracts may include a Due Diligence Fee.  If a fee has been agreed upon, it is non-refundable. A check from the Buyer payable to the Seller will be delivered to the Seller who should immediately cash or deposit the check.  The amount of the fee will be credited to the Buyer at closing.  

Appraisal 

If the Buyer is financing the purchase with a mortgage, their lender will require an appraisal.  The appraiser's job is to ensure the property is worth the price upon which the Buyer and Seller have agreed.  In order to do this, the appraiser will visit your home (it's OK if you are there) and prepare an appraisal report.  All financed contracts are effectively contingent upon the appraised value coming back at or above the purchase price even if the contract does not contain an expressly written contingency.  Thus, if the property fails to appraise, the Buyer will be unable to obtain the loan and therefore unable to close.  Note that unless the property fails to appraise, we typically do not get a copy of the appraisal report.  

Seller Attorney Preparation

Our attorney will prepare the documents that you are required to provide to the closing attorney.  We encourage Buyers to select our attorney as the closing attorney in which case their office will handle the entire transaction.  Either way our attorney will prepare your Deed, Lien Waiver, and other documents and we will meet with you to sign and notarize those documents.  This is the step that eliminates your need to attend closing.

Closing Attorney Preparation

The Closing Attorney selected by the Buyer will require some information from you in order to prepare for closing including mortgage account numbers, social security numbers, forwarding addresses, etc.  They will send us a form upon which to provide this information which we will forward to you.  

The Closing Attorney will also prepare the HUD-1 Settlement Statement which is a form that itemizes the financial aspect of the closing.  This is typically available the day of or the day before closing, however new regulations will soon require the HUD to be available at least 3 days prior to closing.

Final Walk Through

The Buyer will schedule a final walk through just prior to closing.  The purpose of this is to ensure that the property has been emptied of all personal items, is clean, and is in the same condition as when the contract was agreed upon.  If repairs were agreed upon and not previously verified, the Buyer may also verify those repairs have been completed.   

Closing

Remember that the closing date is a TARGET DATE.  Closing dates can, and often do, change.  On the day of closing the Buyer will go to to the closing attorney's office to sign their documents and complete the transaction.  On occasion there will be documents requiring your signature that are not available until the day of closing so we ask that you have access to a scanner or fax machine on the closing date.   The sale is finalized when the Deed is recorded at the Register of Deed's office and your funds will be available afterwards.  (Note that in South Carolina funds are available as soon as both Buyer and Seller have signed - you do not need to wait on the deed to be recorded).  Generally you can pick up a check from the Closing Attorney's office or have it mailed to you.  For a fee, the attorney can wire the funds to your bank account.  

Can I Start Packing?

In a word, no. Contracts go through phases of strength that increase as we move through the closing process towards the closing date.  Since the Buyer can generally terminate with little to no penalty during the inspection period we advise waiting until at least this is over before you begin packing.  Once the inspections and any necessary repairs are completed, the contract is much stronger and rarely at this point does one not close, so you are certainly safe to begin preparing to move.  Once the appraisal is back, the contract is stronger still, and it's again stronger once the Buyer's loan has been fully approved.  Ideally, you would wait until we have the full loan approval, however that isn't always feasible, so our advice is to wait as long as you comfortably can to start packing while allowing ample time to finish before the closing date.

When Do I Have To Be Out?

Please plan to be 100% moved out by 5:00 PM the day before the Closing Date.  If you cannot do this, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can be aware and prepared.  Please schedule your utilities to be disconnected the day after closing.  Disastrous things can happen if utilities are off even for a short while (such as ice from an ice maker melting and leaking onto the floor), so scheduling the disconnect for the day after closing protects you.  We will have advised the Buyer to connect the utilities for the day of closing.  

What Else Do I Need To Know?

That's really about it.  If you want to use our complimentary moving van, please make sure to call and reserve a time.

Otherwise, just relax and let us take care of the details.   

Posted in Closing Process
July 30, 2015

Preparing for Photos

Remember that on the day your photos are taken we’re creating a permanent record of what your house looks like which makes this the single most important day in terms of the overall condition of your home.  Please take the time the evening before and morning of your photography date to make sure the following things are taken care of.

Note:  Please remember that the photographer maintains a schedule and is likely photographing other houses on the same day.  Your home needs to be 100% ready to shoot at the time of your appointment.  

Click here do download a printable PDF version of this to use as a checklist.

All Rooms:

Turn on all lights and lamps.

1.  Close all closet doors.

2.  Hide all trash cans in closets or under cabinets.

3.  Put away any shoes, clothes, papers, dog leashes, keys, mail, and other personal items that may be sitting around your home.

4.  Open all blinds.

5.  Hide any cords that aren’t necessary for a lamp to be on.  For example you can unplug flat panel televisions and tie the cords up behind it.  Put phone chargers away.

 

Kitchen:

Put away any non-decorative dishtowels, rags, etc.

Put away any soaps, cleaning supplies, dish detergent, scrubbers, etc.

Make sure all dishes are put away.

All surfaces - counter tops, sinks, appliances, etc should be spotless.

 

Bathrooms

Put away any visible toiletries including those visible through shower doors.  Remove any hanging shower racks visible through shower doors.

Close shower curtains and doors.  Glass shower doors should be spotless.

Close toilet lids.

All surfaces including mirrors, countertops, sinks, and faucets should be gleaming.

 

Bedrooms

Make beds - turn them down the way you would find in a hotel upon check in.

Close closet doors.

Make sure all non-decorative items such as phone chargers, magazines, clothes, shoes, remote controls, etc are out of sight.

 

 

Outside:

Hide trashcans.  The garage or, better yet, a neighbor’s house is a good place.

Make sure lawn equipment, hoses, etc are put away.

Hide any small, movable toys.

If you have a pool make sure the water is clean and clear.

Remove and hide any furniture covers and make sure stored cushions are in place.

 

Make sure the lawn has been mowed & edged and all surfaces have been swept.

Posted in staging
Nov. 25, 2014

5 Online Mistakes That Can Cost You Time and Money

Trulia.com, Zillow.com, FrontDoor.com - these are all great places to get started on your home search.  But the moment you are past "getting started" you need to be working with a Realtor, here's why:

1.  The house you are looking at might not be for sale.  Portals like Trulia and Zillow are tracking information from public records and have listings for houses that are for sale but also houses that are NOT for sale - and the difference can can be hard to spot.  So the cute bungalow with the fenced yard and the awesome kitchen might have sold 3 years ago.

2.  The house house are looking at might have been for sale at one time but is now sold.  Because of the way home listings can by syndicated across multiple portals the information is not always up-to-the-minute.  In a strong market homes can sell in just days so that killer two story with the multi-level deck might be under contract already.

3.  The house you are looking at could be worth a lot less than Zillow says.  Zillow is an automated valuation tool much like the one we have. It's a great place to get an idea of what the home might be worth but it's certainly not final word.  There are many factors that contribute to the market value of a home and there can be differences measured in tens of thousands for what appears to be the same house in the same neighborhood.  Before you go looking at (or making an offer on) that remodeled condo get with a buyer's agent to make sure the numbers are as good as they look.

4.  The listing agent that you are calling works for the seller.  This is a pretty basic one but I'm always surprised to see how many people don't quite understand.  When you see the name and telephone number of a friendly, smiling Realtor beside the house you are looking at online remember that in all likelihood that agent is working for the seller which means they are trying to get the best deal possible for the seller - not you.  Instead of calling the listing agent call your Realtor.  

5.  Stay away from the "Request More Info" buttons.  It seems pretty harmless but the moment you click that button many of the real estate portals sell your information to two, three, or more brokers.  Not that there's anything wrong with that - but unless you just want to have several Realtors chasing you down you're better off just calling yours to get more information.  

Here's the thing - the ultimate source for property listings is your local MLS and only Realtors have access to that data. Having your owner buyer's agent costs nothing and they can make the search way easier by sending you listings directly from the MLS that match your criteria and can automatically notify you of new listings & price reductions.  These real estate portals are great for "just looking" but beyond that you need to be working with a good Realtor who specializes in purchases.  

 

Posted in buying tips